Protecting Consumer Data Conference: Biggest Takeaways

On Thursday, The Hill hosted a conference entitled “Protecting Consumer Data,” which featured a diverse assortment of panelists from corporate and government entities concerned with consumer data privacy. In case you missed it, here are the biggest takeaways from the event:

The first keynote interview featured Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. The Subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes cybersecurity policy. Senator Fischer emphasized the need for greater information sharing between industry and government regarding data security threats, because cooperation is the only way to keep consumer data safe. However, she also argued that the government will not be able to adapt to new technologies and foster greater innovation, but will instead merely serve as a hindrance to private industry.

Next was a sponsored segment moderated by Information Technology Industry Council Vice President for Global Privacy Policy and General Counsel Yael Weinman. The segment featured Ellen Richey, who serves as Vice Chair of Risk and Public Policy at Visa, Inc. Richey discussed how chip cards, biometrics, and tokenization (putting numbers besides an actual account number on a payment card, for example, so that these numbers cannot be monetized through theft) will make it nearly impossible for meaningful data to be stolen by hackers. She emphasized that information needs to be shared more broadly among corporations so that industry can keep up with hackers. If done properly, she argued that the Internet of Things will actually make data more secure, not less.

The third segment was a panel discussion featuring Michelle Rosenthal of T-Mobile and Mona Sedky from the Department of Justice, and moderated by Heather Molino of Cornerstone Government Affairs. Sedky discussed the need for a national data breach notification rubric, since there are presently 47 different state-level policies that make it difficult for corporations to respond in a timely and appropriate manner. Rosenthal argued that regulatory policy should not “put companies in a box” by being overly prescriptive as technology continues to advance. Sedky also proposed a legislative fix that would allow the Department of Justice to go after criminals operating entirely overseas with data stolen in the U.S. to change the cost-benefit analysis of committing cybercrimes.

 

The last two keynote interviews featured Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Representative Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Blackburn discussed the need for legislative action to protect what she termed the “virtual you,” and said that the Federal Trade Commission should be reformed so that it can be put in charge of data privacy enforcement. Synema noted that there have been thousands of data breaches in the past year and that 40 percent of companies have experienced data breach over the same period. She argued that, although we are a privacy-focused nation, we must increase information sharing to prevent data breach which could result in a complete lack of privacy for us all.

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